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Federico García Lorca

(1898—1936) Spanish poet and dramatist


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(1898–1936)

Spanish poet and dramatist, regarded as one of the most prominent figures of Spanish literary life in the twentieth century.

Born at Fuente Vaqueros, Granada, the son of a wealthy landowner, García Lorca studied literature and law and planned a career as a musician before he turned to writing. Whilst at Madrid in 1919 he met such influential figures of the avant-garde movement as Salvador Dali, Rafael Alberti, Luis Buñuel, and Pablo Neruda. García Lorca's first play, El maleficio de la mariposa (1920; ‘The Evildoing of the Butterfly’), was not a success, but his first volume of verse, Libro de poemas (1921; ‘Book of Poems’), was an early indication of his talent. García Lorca became the centre of a group of poets known as ‘The Generation of 1927’ and in 1928 he published his most celebrated book of poems, Romancero gitano (translated as Gypsy Ballads, 1953). His reputation was consolidated with Poema del Cante Jondo and Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías (1934; translated as Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter, 1937); all three drew on life in his native Andalusia and were characterized by a highly original imagery. His work during a six-month visit to New York (1929) showed a marked change in tone; a sense of mortality and rebellious disgust is evident in his book of surrealistic poems Poeta en Nueva York (1940; translated as Poet in New York, 1955).

A spirit of revolt also showed itself in García Lorca's plays, for example La zapotera prodigiosa (1930; translated as The Prodigious Wife, 1941), which attacked the fashionable realism of the Spanish theatre and showed the influence of Cocteau and Valle-Inclán. In 1932 he became co-director of the La Barraca theatrical company and toured Spain. García Lorca wrote a number of farces for the troupe but it is his trilogy of plays, Bodas de sangre (1933; translated as Blood Wedding, 1939), Yerma (1934; translated 1941), and La casa de Bernarda Alba (1936; translated as The House of Bernarda Alba, 1947) on which his reputation as a playwright rests. These ‘folk tragedies’, dealing with the subject of frustrated womanhood, combine savage passion with a strong dramatic construction. By this time García Lorca was recognized as supreme master of the Spanish language and unequalled in his expression of the dark forces underlying life and death and love and hate. However, when he was at the peak of his creativity, the Spanish civil war broke out and García Lorca, arrested for his republican sympathies, was shot by a nationalist firing squad and buried in an unmarked grave.

Subjects: theatre.


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Works by Federico García Lorca